By Gabrielle KuholskiSeptember 12, 2013
Testing of a new automated system is underway at Fort Huachuca's West Gate. Once completed, no Department of the Army civilian security guards will be posted at the gate.
Moving to the unmanned system will save approximately $250,000 a year according to John Griffin, Physical Security Access Control division chief. It also helps Griffin with the installation's Directorate of Emergency Services DA security guard staffing.
"In today's resource-constrained environment, automation of the gate will allow us to better utilize our DA guards where they are most needed," Griffin said. "Right now we are not at our authorized strength of guards, so they would be much better utilized at the other installation gates."
Once converted to automatic gates, certain personnel who live in the surrounding area and use the West Gate will be vetted and provided proxy cards which open the gate.
Non-proxy card personnel will come up to the kiosk and push the button, which operates a camera and intercom connected to the Military Police Station. Once the individual displays an ID card such as a driver's license to the camera, an MP at the station will open the gate for the driver. For vehicles exiting post, an automated exit gate will automatically open when drivers approach.
"There are several measures in place to keep [the West Gate] safe, even though it is unmanned," Griffin said, referring to the automatic vehicle barrier, which can be activated by the MP desk sergeant if a driver tries to breach the gate.
On average, less than 300 vehicles pass through the West Gate each day. John Tackitt, Department of the Army guard chief, explained, and the gate remains open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Switching to the automated system would save 10 guards from staffing the gate around the clock, he said.
Although it experiences much less traffic than the Main and East Gates, residents of eastern Cochise County and western Santa Cruz County use the gate as a way to commute to on-post or Sierra Vista locations. The Fort Huachuca and Sierra Vista communities travel through the gate for recreation in the western Huachuca Mountains.
The target date for testing completion of the automated system is Sept. 21.